On Friday night, the Brusly Panthers decidedly won bragging rights for another year after pounding Port Allen 40-6 in this year’s in-parish rivalry game, the Sugar Cane Classic.
“I felt like we were ready to play from the first kickoff,” said Brusly’s Head Coach Erik Willis.
Both coaches agreed that the Panthers were in control for most of the game.
“We got deep in the trenches,” said Port Allen’s Coach Guy Blanchard. “[Brusly] came in and controlled the line of scrimmage since the beginning of the game.”
This year’s Sugar Cane Classic started with a Panther advantage as Port Allen’s kick-off was returned by Brusly’s Sam Williams past midfield to the Pelicans’ 48-yard line. The Panthers continued to make steady advancement into Pelican territory. The drive ended as Darien Cobbs was able to push Brusly to the 14-yard line where he was able to score the first touchdown on the following play.
“It kind of set the tone for everything with them making the first touchdown,” said Blanchard.
A successful two-point conversion pass from Blake Manola to Anthony Daquano gave the Panthers an 8-point lead over the Pelicans.
Following the Panther touchdown, Pelicans’ Terrione Thomas returned the Brusly kick-off all the way for a touchdown only to have it called back to Brusly’s 45-yard line due to a penalty on the Pels.
“It took the wind out of our sails to have a touchdown called back,” said Coach Blanchard.
The Pels were unable to move the ball against the stout Panther defense and gave up possession after four plays. But the Pels’ defense was able to quickly get the ball back after a sack by Morris Miller and Jarious Robertson and an intercepted Manola pass by James Jones.
After a drive riddled with penalties on either team, the first quarter ended with Brusly’s Carlsel Alexander sacking Port Allen quarterback Alex Hebert in the backfield.
The second quarter began with the Pelicans’ decision to try for the end zone on fourth down, but Brusly’s Kwanston Adkins intercepted the pass in the end zone, allowing Brusly to take control at their own 20-yard line.
The Panthers again methodically moved the ball downfield in a drive that ended in a Manola 2-yard rushing touchdown, bringing the score to 14-0.
After a failed Pels drive and strong defensive stand by Brusly that saw a sack by Josh Allen, a Pelican punt was returned by Adkins to the PA 38 yard line.
Darien Cobbs romped into the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown on the first play of the drive.
After several failed pass attempts by Port Allen’s Hebert caused the Pels to turn the ball over, Port Allen’s defense held the Panthers, who were unable to make any progress in their drive.
DeMarcus Franklin took over as quarterback for the Pelicans, but an incomplete pass and a penalty on Port Allen only pushed the Pels back further. On fourth down, Port Allen’s punt was blocked, allowing Brusly to take over with 30 yards to the end zone and two minutes left in the half.
A Manola pass to Daquano into the end zone was called back after a penalty on Brusly and the following pass was incomplete after it was broken up by Port Allen’s James Jones. Brusly opted to settle for a field goal on fourth down, but it was missed.
Port Allen’s drive ended near the 10-yard line with Franklin as QB as the time wound down to halftime with Brusly up 21-0.
The second half began with a couple of failed drives and a Port Allen fumble which was recovered by Brusly. After a third down sack by Morris Miller, Manola tossed a 14-yard touchdown to Daquano raising Brusly’s lead to 28-0.
Terrione Thomas returned the Panther kickoff to midfield, giving the Pelicans good field position. After a stuffed Kevin Ransom rush by Brusly’s Tyree Johnson and a Franklin sack by Cobbs and Austin Watts, KaRon Young, Franklin and Zaylon Bellamy pushed the Pelicans to the 6-yard line, where Hebert returned as quarterback.
Hebert, on a short pass, connected with Franklin who pushed his way into the end zone for a touchdown with 1:30 remaining in the third quarter, cutting the Panthers lead to 28-6.
Port Allen began to feel a shift in momentum when Terrione Thomas intercepted a Manola pass at the 40-yard line, but the momentum slowed when Brusly’s Cobbs sacked Hebert at the close of the third quarter.
On the opening play of the fourth quarter, Kwanston Adkins intercepted Hebert’s pass and ran it 53 yards for a touchdown to make the score 34-6.
When Port Allen received the ball back, they didn’t make any progress from the 30 yard line. On the fourth down, the Pelicans intended to kick a punt return, but the ball was snapped too high and was recovered by Brusly 10 yards away from their goal line. Blake Manola scored the final touchdown of the game with a 5-yard rushing touchdown for the Panthers, making the score 40-6.
Port Allen’s next two drives were cut short after a pass was tipped and intercepted by Watts, and a fumble was recovered by the Panthers.
The game ended with Brusly’s Hayden Richard sacking Hebert.
After four tough teams and four hard losses for the Panthers, the win was welcomed with open arms. Just before handing his team the trophy flag for the in-parish rivalry, Willis told his team, “What we’ve been through has only made us better.”